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All aboard the Blue Train

Michal Zuk takes in the stunning luxury of South Africa’s Blue Train


A locomotive cuts across the picturesque landscape of the South African interior, its stock painted in a royal blue. The aptly named Blue Train – providing a ride as smooth as its jazz equivalent – is the pinnacle of luxury travel, an echo of a bygone era of indulgent train treks.

Guests experience a 27-hour journey between Cape Town and Pretoria from the comfort of private cabins and with a personal butler at their service. The train travels around a comfortable 56mph to ensure noise levels never reach above a purring 55 decibels. Inter-suite sealing guarantees additional quiet and privacy. Surrounded by rolling grasslands and the aura of the African sunset, it’s the perfect way to get away from it all in absolute opulence.

A history of luxury
A direct descendent of the original Union Limited and Union Express trains which carried passengers between Cape Town and the goldfields of the Witwatersrand in the 1920s, no detail is overlooked in ensuring the quality of the Blue Train experience. The spacious cabins come equipped for relaxation with goose down duvet and pillows, a private marble-tiled washroom with choice of shower or bath, and a writing desk positioned ideally by the window. All personal correspondence written on board is stamped and dispatched by the train manager.

Guests are invited to visit the Blue Train’s Lounge and Club cars from which they can indulge in light conversation or quiet reflection over fine cognac and Cuban cigars. Staff are friendly and professional, the décor is elegant and the bar is always well stocked. In the dining car, lunch and dinner are served in exquisite style with a wide array of cuisine and a vast wine list to captivate the senses. Meals include local specialities such as Karoo lamb, ostrich fillet and Knysna oysters.

A journey of discovery
The trip also provides guests with an excursion along the way, allowing them to experience the wonders of the South African countryside. On the route from Cape Town to Pretoria, the train stops in Matjiesfontein, a quaint historic town, owing its existence to the railways. In the opposite direction, the Blue Train halts in Kimberley, a settlement built after the late-nineteenth-century discovery of diamonds in the region. Of note is the Big Hole of Kimberley. Currently 215m, it is the largest hand-dug excavation on earth and had yielded more than 14 million carats by the time it closed in 1914.

The Blue Train will cater to each and every whim of its passengers, offering customisable options for more indulgent travellers. It can be chartered on bespoke excursions which can include a round of golf, a visit to a casino resort or an experience in one of Africa’s few cheetah reserves. Business travellers can also book the train for a seminar on the move as its conference car holds a unique meeting space. The plush and professional seating and multimedia facilities of the train interior combine with the beautiful African landscape viewable through its large windows to make any business discussion a pleasure.

Everything about the Blue Train is designed to provide maximum travel comfort and enjoyment; there are few better ways to traverse the distance between two of South Africa’s most important cities. Passengers will find that upon arrival they feel rested and satisfied, ready for wherever life takes them next.

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